Last update 8/9/2011 12:00:00 PM (GMT+7)

South Korea discusses China's territorial ambition
China explains its incursions into the South China Sea (East Sea) and the East China Sea using the geological reason of the outer continental shelf theory and the historical reason of its ancient voyages to the distant seas. It has confronted Vietnam and the Philippines. It also claims the sea of Malaysia and Indonesia.

China has confronted Japan in the East China Sea over exploration of undersea oil, gas and mineral resources around Senkaku Island. Most recently, China has splashed water at Korea or intervened in South Korea's rescue operation of its sunken coal-transporting vessel within the median line of South Korea’s sea.

The East China Sea and the South China Sea are not oceans, but narrow seas shared by many neighboring nations. China cannot claim 200 nautical miles as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or the outer continental shelf in those seas. It sounds ridiculous or imperialistic.

The International Court of Justice once used the continental shelf theory in resolving the Germany-Denmark-Netherlands dispute in the North Sea, and China is using the court decision as a precedent. Since that ruling, a great majority of maritime boundary disputes have been resolved by the median line theory between the two coastal states. The median line policy can be easy, simple and powerful for the nations to observe.

China and South Korea have not resolved the maritime boundary line in the sea between the two nations. That should not be an excuse for China to arbitrarily intervene in South Korea's rescue operation of its sunken ship, demanding a permit. China did the same ridiculous thing when South Korea constructed its ocean research tower on an underwater rock named Ieodo. Westerners named the rock Socotra Rock in 1900, which is located within the median line of South Korea.

China is provoking neighboring nations in the peaceful sea. In mid-June 2011, the Vietnamese authorities accused a Chinese fishing boat of deliberately snagging a seismic cable being used by an oil exploration boat operated by Vietnam's state-run oil company, Petro Vietnam.

China claims the entire South China Sea for itself, citing ancient maps reaching as far south as Malaysia’s northern coast. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia claim various parts of the South China Sea for their own exclusive economic development.

Asia's mistrust of China and fear of Beijing is based on its territorial ambition to claim Tibet and now its greed in pursuing more undersea resources.

China's ambition should be counterbalanced by the United States as a Pacific partner to Asia-Pacific nations and by a unified Asian alliance armed with justice and fairness in the international community.

The world should pay attention to China's declaration that its EEZ is off-limits to foreign navies, which is a creative reinterpretation of the Law of the Sea.

Now is the time to review EEZs and outer continental shelf rights. No nations should abuse EEZ and continental shelf rights. The seas and oceans should be the property of humankind, not one superpower or several other powers.

The best acceptable single maritime boundary delimitation should be a median line in narrow and small seas between coastal states.

Source: Korea Times